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26 Jan 2022

The Guardian

Lebanon: NSO Group allegedly hacked Human Rights Watch staffer with Pegasus spyware

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"Top Human Rights Watch investigator allegedly hacked with Pegasus spyware" 26 January 2022

The mobile phones of a senior Human Rights Watch staff member are alleged to have been repeatedly hacked by a client of NSO Group...when she was investigating the catastrophic August 2020 explosion...in Beirut.

The alleged hacking of Lama Fakih...director of crisis and conflict at HRW, marks the latest example of how NSO’s powerful surveillance tool...has been used by the company’s clients to target campaigners and journalists.

...An investigation by HRW’s security team...found that Fakih’s iPhones had apparently been infected with Pegasus through a so-called “zero-click” exploit that allows operators of the spyware to infect a phone without the mobile user doing anything, such as clicking on a link...

NSO’s chairman...said he was stepping down as chairman of the company but denied that the move had any connection to the recent developments...

NSO declined to respond to the Guardian’s questions about Fakih’s case but the company told HRW that it was “not aware of any active customer using [its] technology against a Human Rights Watch staff member” and that it would open an initial assessment into allegations that Fakih had been hacked...